This image shows chief curator Forrest McGill and Wilsted & Taylor principal Christine Taylor proofing color for our upcoming catalogue of art objects from Burma and Thailand in conjunction with the Emerald Cities exhibition.
There’s nothing quite like posting incorrect information in a web video to get people’s attention. No sooner had I posted the video on conserving the “green monster” than I heard from the usually-so-quiet conservators. I had misunderstood the use of a Japanese seaweed called funori. Time for this non-conservator to do some damage control in the area of information. Here’s how it really happened…
Some of the Asian Art Museum’s books are designed by our very small in-house staff, while others are outsourced. This one was designed by Tag Savage of Wilsted & Taylor, and it is a delight.
One of the issues we regularly encounter with the museum’s publications is that most American designers are strongly influenced by a Japanese aesthetic, while they are likely to know little about the design aesthetics of other Asian cultures. Even within the East Asian area, for example, we must often correct an initial Japanese orientation in designs of books on Chinese or Korean subjects.
So when it comes to nineteenth-century art from Burma and Siam, most designers come at the project from a starting point that is very foreign to the topic.
As xensen mentioned in his blog post “Gilt-y Pleasures,” the Emerald Cities exhibition involves an enormous amount of conservation work. Lots of the artwork that you’ll see had been damaged in some way — some by the flood of a hurricane, some by the Southeast Asian climate, and some by previous conservation work that did as much harm as good. And some objects just weren’t meant to last long in the first place.
One of these, a painting on cloth, earned the nickname “The Green Monster” among the conservators. It’s a tall painting in which all the green paint was made of a copper-based pigment. The copper pigment is highly acidic, and it ate holes through the backing cotton fabric. Check out this video as Director of Conservation Katie Holbrow and Conservator Shiho Sasaki talk about patching the hundreds of green holes in the painting.
Even as the museum is gearing up for the opening of Lords of the Samurai in a few weeks, many of us are working on upcoming shows. Here Katie Holbrow, head of conservation at the museum, is working on a gilded object for Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma, which will be on display from October 23, 2009 through January 10, 2010, in our Lee, Hambrecht, and Osher Galleries on the main floor. This exhibition, which is drawn from the museum’s own collections (about 70 percent of the works were the result of a recent donation from the Doris Duke foundation) has involved the most extensive conservation work that I can remember. Many of these objects are decorated with gold, silver, gems, or glass, and, thanks to the work of the conservators, they really sparkle (wear shades)